Video | Volkswagen ID. Buzz: smart thinking meets sustainable style

Watch to find out what a humble T-shirt from Rapanui and Volkswagen’s head-turning all-electric van share in common...

We all know that cutting the impact of our journeys is a key part of living and working more sustainably. That’s where the Volkswagen ID. Buzz comes in. Available as a family-friendly five-seater or a hard-working panel van, it re-imagines the timeless style and versatility of the iconic Volkswagen Bulli for an all-electric future.

To celebrate the ID. Buzz, we set out to find pioneering British businesses that share its work smarter, live electric ambition. First, online fashion firm Rapanui, which has crafted a better way to make T-shirts. Using ethically sourced natural cotton, a more efficient made-to-order manufacturing process, and a circular economy philosophy that encourages customers to send back items to be recycled, Rapanui is lowering the impact of the clothes we wear and making fast fashion much more sustainable.

That’s why we went to Rapanui’s HQ on the Isle of Wight to explore all the things that a modest T-shirt and Volkswagen’s all-new all-electric ID. Buzz share in common. Watch the video above to learn more, or read on...

Volkswagen ID. Buzz

Take a timeless icon, transform it for tomorrow

There’s nothing quite as timelessly fashionable as a simple T-shirt or the original Volkswagen Bulli: two icons that truly came of age in the 1950s.

Alongside the Volkswagen Beetle, the Bulli was one of a number of pioneering vehicles that transformed mobility for the masses and gave us all a new sense of freedom, independence, and individuality. Now, the Volkswagen ID. Buzz is changing the game once again: this time for e-mobility.

The ID. Buzz shares many of the endearingly charming and characterful avant-garde design touches that made the Bulli unmistakable: from the split-screen to the ‘V’ grille and the large Volkswagen roundel, now framed by advanced modern-retro LED Matrix headlights. It’s all underpinned by an all-electric powertrain that delivers 204PS and 310Nm, with up to 258 miles of range and the ability to charge from 5% to 80% in as little as 30 minutes with a 170kW ultra-rapid charger.

Like the Bulli, the humble T-shirt quickly became the work and leisurewear standard in the 1950s. But that has had a consequence. Today’s modern fashion industry has a big impact on the environment, while we – as consumers – tend to treat our clothes as disposable. Seeing the impact of the waste from both clothing manufacturers and consumers, Rapanui set out to re-imagine fast fashion from the ground up.

Volkswagen ID. Buzz

Start with a modular, flexible, adaptable design

When it comes to reducing the impact of the vehicles we drive and the clothes we wear, it all starts with re-thinking how they’re made. In the same way that a T-shirt is an endlessly adaptable solution for style, the ID. Buzz’s modular platform is perfectly suited to work as both a hard-working and a spacious stylish passenger carrier. That makes it much more efficient to manufacture.

The ID. Buzz shares the same ‘compact outside, spacious inside’ philosophy of the original Bulli. Its wheel-on-each-corner design, compact electric motors and low-mounted batteries create short overhangs and a long wheelbase that deliver more space inside, as well as urban-friendly dimensions and a tight 11.1m turning circle.

For the ID. Buzz five-seater, that means a lounge-like interior and up to 1,121 litres of luggage space as standard (three times that of a VW Golf), or up to 2,205 litres with the 40:60-split three-seater rear bench folded away.

The hard-working ID. Buzz Cargo panel van boasts up to 3.9m3 of load volume and a 650kg internal payload, while 2200mm of load length, 1250mm of load height and 1700mm of load width let you carry two Euro pallets transversely. Clever fastening rails and lashing loops keep cargo tied down, while wide-opening barn doors (or an optional tailgate) and two sliding side doors make loading a breeze. The nifty ‘underload function’ provides an additional 45cm of load length through a channel under the passenger seat – great for awkward longer items.

Throughout the cabin in both versions of the ID. Buzz are a wealth of useful cubbies, shelves, pockets and trays for pens, tools, phones and anything in between, while the handy detachable ‘Buzz Box’ between the two front seats houses cup holders and an ice-scraper – or anything else you’d like to put in there.

Volkswagen ID. Buzz

Start with low-impact materials, apply them intelligently

As part of its ‘Way To Zero’ plan to be climate neutral by 2050, Volkswagen has examined every element of its how it makes its vehicles to reduce waste. As a result, every ID. Buzz leaves the factory with a carbon neutral footprint from the start.

The other key to more sustainable manufacturing is the materials you use. In the case of a Rapanui T-shirt, that means ethically sourced cottons that are better for the environment and the people that produce them, as well as water-based inks and dyes that are free from fossil fuels and other chemicals harmful to the environment.

In the same way, the ID. Buzz uses more sustainable materials in every element of its design. This includes organically based paints, as well as trim materials for the leather-free interior that are made from renewable sources – such as a yarn called SEAQUAL, made from 10% marine plastics and 90% recycled plastic bottles.

Equally, it’s all about the process. Rather than mass-producing T-shirt s in bulk, Rapanui has designed a smarter made-to-order process. It lets you choose your preferred design online, which Rapanui then prints as a one-off – potentially within minutes of it being picked. The result: Rapanui only makes what people actually need when they need it. More choice for consumers; less wasted stock.


Communicating intelligently to live and work more efficiently

To ensure orders are processed correctly, Rapanui uses smart bar codes to get its machines talking to each other across multiple locations. That ensures that every T-shirt starts off with the right size and colour, gets the right printed design, and is then shipped to the right customer in plastic-free recyclable packaging.

The ID. Buzz also uses smart technology to make journeys easier and safer. Inside, it’s designed to be a smart digital living room or a mobile office on wheels. Always-on connectivity ensures your ID. Buzz receives over-the-air updates, so you always have access to the latest navigation, traffic and public charging data on the large digital display and touchscreen. Equally, intuitive Hello ID voice control works with WeConnect smartphone connectivity to let you control your apps without you lifting a finger, while eight USB-C ports keep plenty of devices charged up.

As part of its extensive suite of over 30 driver assistance aids, the ID. Buzz also uses ‘swarm’ data to communicate with other vehicles or the cloud to power its advanced Travel Assist and Car2X live hazard warning systems. On the passenger carrier, a narrow illuminated interactive ID Light stretches across the dashboard and conveys important safety messages via bright coloured alerts.

The ID. Buzz also makes charging more seamless. Clever no-fuss Plug & Charge technology makes on-the-go charging a breeze. Simply plug-in, and the ID. Buzz will talk directly with the charger, with no need for payment apps or charging cards. Bi-directional charging also means you can you use the ID. Buzz with a vehicle-to-grid (V2G) or vehicle-to-home (V2H) charger to top-up when energy is at its cheapest, before putting that energy back into your home to power household appliances when energy is more expensive – effectively saving you money off your bills.

Volkswagen ID. Buzz

Designed to be recycled at end-of-life, from the very start

Finally, with modern fast fashion often considered ‘disposable’, Rapanui has thought about the impact of its T-shirts once they’re no longer wanted. By using better-quality organic cottons from the start, Rapanui has ensured that its T-shirts can be more easily recycled. In fact, Rapanui actively encourages customers to return and recycle T-shirts for discounts on purchases, as part of what is a truly circular economy.

It’s a similar story with the ID. Buzz, which was designed to be more easily recycled from the start. This includes the vehicle’s batteries, which were engineered to be more easily removed from the vehicle once it leaves the road and given a second life as home or office energy storage.

Equally, in the same way that Volkswagen’s ‘Working With You’ philosophy is about being more than just a vehicle supplier, and supporting customers more closely in every aspect of their lives and their business – Rapanui has opened up its Teemill technology to let anyone design, sell and recycle their own T-shirt designs, with around 10,000 brands and businesses now using the platform.

So, whether you’re looking for the perfect hard-working van for a small business or an adaptable passenger carrier for an adventurous family, the all-electric ID. Buzz is, just like a Rapanui T-shirt, rethinking sustainability from the ground up – taking something iconic, and making it work even smarter and even more efficiently.

Read more: VW ID. Buzz electric car review

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